April 1, 2023

Late round steals

This archived article was written by: David Osborne Jr.

Everyone knows that the players drafted in the first round of any sports’ draft are supposed to be the offensive threats, champions and leaders for years to come. We know people like this in our own lives. There is always that person in one of our classes or even people we work with that are just “great at everything,” and let everyone know it. As with anything in life, this person that is supposed to be amazing at everything and is the first round draft pick, is not always certain, generally we call these draft “busts” and they happen often. Because of these “busts” we have back ups, the “diamonds in the rough,” the late round draft picks that most of us are like.
Major league baseball has many busts that should have been great, but certainly fell short of the mark. Luckily for fans and managers, a fair number of diamonds are taken in the late rounds of the draft. John Smoltz, almost certainly one of the greatest pitchers of all time, was taken in the 22 round of the 1985 draft and was the 574 overall pick. Smoltz had a career ERA of 3.33 and that was over 21 years. Smoltz also had 3,084 strikeouts and had 213 wins, compared to 155 losses. He is the only pitcher to every have 200 wins and 150 saves, certainly a late-round diamond. Another MLB diamond was Mike Piazza. Piazza was drafted in 1988 in the 62 round and as the 1,390 overall pick. Piazza was a 12-time All-Star, and was the 1993 Rookie of the Year, yes that is right, the 1,390 pick was the Rookie of the Year. He also had a .308 batting average, which included 427 career home runs (396 as a catcher, the most by any catcher.)
The National Basketball Association has many late-round heroes to help teams out. Mark Eaton is certainly a household name in Utah if you have parents who were Utah Jazz fans in the 1980s. Eaton started his professional career as a 7-foot-4-inch mechanic, yes, a mechanic. In 1982 he was drafted in the fourth round as the 107 overall pick. Eaton was a two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year. Throughout his career, he had 3,064 blocks (3.5 blocks per game) and 6,939 rebounds (7.9 per game). Eaton also has the record for blocks in a season at 456, averaging 5.6 per game. Another late-round draft gift was Manu Ginobli of the San Antonio Spurs. Ginobli was drafted in the second round and was the 57 overall pick. Ginobli has been a two-time NBA All-Star and awarded the NBA Sixth Man of the Year in 2008. Ginobli (still playing) has a career field-goal percentage of .449 and a 3-point field-goal percentage of .371.
Of course when talking about steals during the late rounds of drafts, you have to talk about the National Football League. Many great football stars came out of the late NFL Draft rounds. Anybody remember a man named Roger Staubach, he was drafted in 1964 in the 10 round and was the 129 overall pick. Staubach was the 1963 Heisman Trophy award winner, Super Bowl VI MVP and inducted into the NFL Hall-of-Fame in 1985. He threw 153 touchdowns in his professional career and racked up a total of 22,700 passing yards. Staubach had a career quarterback rating of 83.4. Terrell Davis was another late-round pickup that made the team he got drafted to a major threat. Davis was drafted to the Denver Broncos in the sixth round of the 1995 draft and taken 196th overall. Davis was a two-time Offensive Player of the Year, made an appearance in three Pro Bowls and the 1998 NFL MVP along with being the Super Bowl MVP that year. Davis racked up 7,607 rushing yards in his career, scoring 60 rushing touchdowns. He also had 169 receptions for 1,280 yards.
For those of you like me (people that are far from being first-round draft picks) remember it is okay, after all there is hope for all of us. You don’t always have to be a number-one pick or even be picked up in the first round to be good at what you do, sometimes it is best that you aren’t. Just to prove this point, here are three busts to prove my point.
JaMarcus Russell, the Oakland Raiders former quarterback, was terrible. Russell left Ohio State University and was supposed to be the next quarterback great, but fell far short of that title. Holding out the entire preseason of his rookie season should have been a hint at what his career would be like. Russell threw a total of 18 touchdowns and 23 interceptions, perhaps the most infamous career for a football player.
Brien Taylor, who should have been a pitching legend wasn’t. Does not even ever stepping on a baseball field count as a bust? Taylor was the first overall pick in the 1991 draft by the New York Yankees, and took $1.55 million out of their pockets without even pitching. Taylor damaged his shoulder in a fight defending his brother and never threw a pitch in Yankee stadium or any other stadium for that matter.
The Los Angeles Clippers could have had Vince Carter, Paul Pierce or Dirk Nowitzki among others in the 1998 Draft, instead with their number-one pick they chose Michael Olowokandi. He hung around with the Clippers until 2007 and only averaged 8.3 points per game and 6.8 rebounds. This proves once again that the Clippers are the most inept at drafting players.
Just remember sometimes it is better to be a late-round draft pick than taken in the first round or even as the number one overall pick. The first rounders tend to have too much pressure and tend to fall apart given the right circumstance. So be a late-round steal and prove everybody wrong.
This is why late round steals have been on the tee.

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